Our Teaching and Learning Philosophy 

Growing healthy bodies, loving hearts and inquisitive minds

Our school is modelled on the principles that underpin Montessori education. The aim of this educational approach is designed to encourage children to become curious, confident self-directed learners and supports our vision to help children to grow healthy bodies, loving hearts and inquisitive minds.

Both our Nursery and Reception/Year 1 classrooms have been designed to reflect a typical Montessori environment and provides continuity for parents/carers choosing our school as their preferred choice after nursery.

Our classrooms are thoughtfully designed to encourage independence, order, and exploration. We provide opportunities for children to engage in self-directed learning, fostering their curiosity and nurturing a lifelong love for discovery.

The Prepared Environment

We believe children learn best in an orderly environment that has been prepared to enable them to explore and do things for themselves. 


When you walk into our Nursery, Reception and Year 1 classrooms you will be struck by the natural sense of order, soft colours, uncluttered spaces, beautiful wooden furniture, open shelves and materials which children feel a sense of safety and belonging. Everything about the environment is designed to be tactile, easily accessible and sensory, giving the aspect of play to all the tasks.


Montessori materials are specially designed and created to provide children with opportunities to discover key learning outcomes through repetition and practice. Each material teaches one skill at a time and is intentionally designed to support independent learning and problem-solving.


There are several distinct areas within the classroom. These include a practical life, sensorial, language, mathematics and culture and form the basis of both the Montessori curriculum and the areas od development and learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Practical Life

Activities in the practical life are designed to develop children’s fine motor skills, coordination, concentration, independence, responsibility, work habits and care for self and the environment.


Activities include pouring, transferring, sorting, peeling, grating, sifting, sorting, serving, cleaning, polishing, sewing, lacing, beading, weaving, threading, chopping, cutting, repairing, dismantling, fixing using real life objects wherever possible.


Whilst practical life activities have value in themselves, they are also  indirect preparation for other areas of learning such as reading, writing and number. All these skills are then applied in the Home Corner and role play areas. 


Tasks that require transferring objects are completed left to right and develop left right eye tracking - an essential pre-skill for reading and writing. Likewise, activities using pegs, spoons and tweezers develop and strengthen children’s pincer grip providing indirect preparation for holding a pencil, mark making and later on, writing words.

Sensorial

The sensorial area focuses on activities that help children develop and refine their senses so that they can better learn and understand the world around them. 

Activities are designed to help children notice similarities, differences and detail and include sorting, ordering, sequencing and classifying according to shape, colour, size, sound, texture and form.   

Children are encouraged to touch different textures and, by using their sense of touch, heighten their perception and understanding of the world around them. Children also access sand and water play where they learn to explore, investigate and observe.


Auditory activities  are designed to heighten our children’s sense of sound perception and differentiating one sound from another. You'll see the Montessori Bells and sound cylinders in the Sensorial area for example. 


These activities are indirect preparation for reading as they assist children differentiating between the 44 phonemes or units of sound used in the English language.



The Absorbent Mind


The child is believed to have an absorbent mind capable of effortlessly absorbing information from their environment. This approach advocates avoiding a fixed mindset and not imposing limitations on what children can achieve. The Montessori approach believes children can achieve beyond what is typically expected within the right environment and teaching approach. For example, when talking about a flower found in the garden with a toddler, it is named as daisy, rose or sunflower because children have an enormous capacity to absorb the new words at this period in their life and facilitates proper linguistic development whilst laying a solid foundation for future learning.

Language

A child has enormous capacity to absorb the new words in this period in their life so a flower found in the garden is named as daisy, rose or sunflower, and the tiny insect crawling in the grass as ant, earwig or ladybird.

Our Nursery and Reception setting is filled with authentic, open-ended resources that children can explore, investigate and talk about. 

These materials provide opportunities for children to explore and talk about and thus build their vocabulary base,  language and communication skills.


Role play areas based on real life scenarios are also a key feature of our Nursery as they stimulate children’s imagination, natural  urge to play and desire to communicate.

Mathematics

Children are introduced to number through counting games and nursery rhymes. Our sensorial materials refine the senses and develop cognitive skills such as thinking, judging, associating, and comparing. 

Montessori believed children were born with a ‘mathematical mind’. By this, she meant they soon develop an ability to match, pair, sort and classify information and organise it in a logical way. 

Children at our school explore and learn to identify shapes; pair sound cylinders, sort natural materials, such as shells, pebbles and conkers, according to size, colour, texture or weight. 

When they are ready and show interest, they are introduced to counting with the help of number rods and sandpaper numerals. 

Cultural Curriculum

The activities and materials on offer are responsive to children’s developmental curiosity and are designed to enrich their minds about our world, nature, art, and music.


Objects of interest provide opportunities to explore, investigate and discover new concepts and ideas. 


You’ll see, real life objects such as torches or magnets for example are provided to encourage children to inquire and learn about scientific concepts such as light and shadows and magnetism. 


Nature tables change and are added to throughout the year also teach children about the seasons, weather and change.

Curated Learning materials

Montessori learning emphasises carefully curated materials that facilitate a concrete to abstract learning approach. The educational materials are thoughtfully selected to provide hands-on, tangible experiences, allowing learners to grasp abstract concepts through direct, sensory engagement. Many of the materials are designed with control of error built in, enabling children to self-correct rather than rely on adult feedback.  


Examples of such materials include the Pink Tower, which aids in spatial awareness, visual discrimination and the spindle box designed to aid with counting and cardinality by providing a concrete representation of quantity. Montessori materials in the classroom are organised in a logical progression, moving from simpler to more complex, creating a structured learning environment. This approach allows children to master essential skills through repetitive practice, fostering a methodical and ordered learning experience.

Reading and writing

Reading is explored phonetically in. Children are taught to build and construct words with letters and sounds alongside reading and long before they have the fine motor skills  to write using a writing implement.

Montessori recognised this and that is why you will see wooden alphabets in our classrooms. 

Number

When children are ready and show interest, they are introduced to counting with the help of number rods and sandpaper numerals. 

Addition materials allow the child to use their sense of touch to grasp mathematical concepts of quantity. They have weight to them, which helps small hands and muscles understand that 1 is less than 10 and 1000 is more than 100.

Nurturing curiosity

Children engage in botany and zoology puzzles and explore objects, photos, culture-specific music, foods, and art activities that represent particular countries and cultures of study.


While exploring the rich content of the Cultural area, our children are unconsciously building skills in observation, prediction, sequencing, categorising, questioning, organising, comparing, and contrasting. 

Creative arts

This area of the classroom is designed to give children the opportunity to express, create and design in art, design and technology, music and drama. Equipment provided encourages children to explore a range of media including mark making, pattern making, printing, painting, collage, sculpture and 3d construction.

Outdoor learning

Only by being outside can children enjoy the light and shade of different times of day and seasons or observe the subtle changes that take place as one season passes into another. 

Big open outdoor spaces encourage children to open their posture using their arms like wings, swing or climb or simply roll around in safe outside spaces.

Forest School

Our outdoor area is designed to give children the opportunity to move, explore and development gross motor skills in a way that is not possible in an indoor environment. 

When children move into the Reception Class, they engage in the Forest School Programme and continue with outdoor learning through practical life activities. 

Nurturing intrinsic motivation and independence


Children are inherently born with a natural desire to learn and explore, driven by internal or intrinsic motivation. Their curiosity and trial-and-error approach are fuelled by an innate desire to learn without fear or judgement. Intrinsic motivation focuses on fostering a sense of pride in personal achievements as a reward, rather than relying on external rewards. It is only when adults introduce judgement and comparison, children may prioritise pleasing others over the joy of learning. This is evident in situations where children are more eager to advance to the next academic level rather than finding pleasure in the learning process itself. 


The responsibility of adults is to foster this curiosity, minimising excessive adult control and allow learning to unfold by offering a variety of carefully prepared inquiries, tasks and learning materials whilst simultaneously recognising when to provide direct instruction, scaffolding, and modelling. Whilst Montessori is often associated with independent, child-led exploration, direct instruction serves as a valuable complement. It helps to introduce foundational concepts, demonstrate skills, and offer necessary guidance, ensuring a balanced and effective learning environment.

The adult

As children move from the Nursery into Reception and Year 1, children begin to engage in work cycles for part of the week. Here, they have an element of choice of learning activities within a carefully prescribed range of options. 


During other times of the week children learn together as a class or in groups so that they are well prepared for the next stage of their education and the school curriculum. 


It is the role of the teacher to facilitate, plan and orchestrate these learning activities through observing a child's characteristics, tendencies, interests, abilities as well as direction instruction. 


We are also supported by a lead Montessori practitioner based at our partner school in Stisted. Their role is to ensure the Montessori approach is applied authentically.

The child

The Montessori approach is built on the relationship between the child, the adult and the environment and the belief that the child has an absorbent mind capable of effortlessly soaking up information from their environment. 

Our approach believes that everything  a young child encounters in their life is awe-inspiring and fills them with wonder.  When the whole world is still relatively brand-new, animals, plants, the environment, and real people provide more than enough inspiration for their young minds.


Learning is personalised and based on each child's unique stage of development, interests, and needs using specifically designed materials that have earned their right to be in the classroom.  


Children learn through play, discovery, repetition, direct instruction and a deep curiosity and respect for their own learning, other people and their environment.  

Respect 

The Montessori approach emphasises fostering respect for the child, environment, oneself, and others.  This encourages children to cultivate a strong sense of self-respect, promoting a positive self-image whilst fostering a sense of empathy and understanding within the learning community. The incorporation of grace and courtesy in the Montessori method involves teaching social skills, politeness, and consideration, contributing to the overall development of well-rounded and socially responsible individuals.


Children are trained to respect and care for the environment as soon as they enter the nursery. They learn to take pride in maintaining a tidy classroom, including their individual work spaces. They are educated on how to handle learning materials responsibly and how to neatly fold clothes and look after their personal items. The role of adults in our school is to be respectful at all times, understand and empathise with the child's perspective, listen attentively, and appreciate accomplishments based on their starting points rather than superficial factors.  


Adults do not define children by their appearance, background or behaviour and do not invade children’s personal or emotional space without being invited. For example, a respectful adult is more interested in the fact a person is able to dress themselves than making a judgement on what they are wearing.


A respectful adult is also a responsive adult who tailors learning experiences to meet a child's needs, prioritising the child's agenda over their own. This involves keen observation, guidance, facilitation, and adaptation of plans to address learning gaps and misconceptions. 

If you are looking for a nursery or a school place, please arrange a visit and we will be delighted to show you around. We also accept mid-year applications for children wishing to join in other year groups.

Please call 01371 810423 to arrange a tour and visit our nursery. Further inquiries can also be made by email to:

 office@finchingfieldacademy.com